Article Archive - 4/7/2007
You may have seen an episode of "Target" on TV last night investigating the merits and myths of natural health supplements vs. pharmaceuticals.
While some refreshing and balanced views were expressed, the general flavour was that natural products are expensive and scientifically unproven, although with frequently good "anecdotal" support.
In particular, a number of items referred to the relative efficacy of substances such as vitamin C and Echinacea as preventatives or mitigators of colds.
For example, the effects of vitamin C were compared as derived from fruit juice, supplements and food and then blood levels measured to determine uptake and urine levels to determine waste. The essential conclusion for supplements was "expensive urine" (or words to that effect), and that food sources were generally best. I will at least agree that food sources certainly are best (when we eat enough of the right ones) and it was refreshing to see comment that a great many natural substances within food are not yet classified and therefore not understood or included in man-made supplements.
Without really wanting to endorse or condemn supplements, per se, I do not believe that all supplements are created equally and the supermarket brand chosen last night was a poor choice to test, but this is by-the-by.
Literature regarding Echinacea was also reviewed to see if it could indeed prevent a cold, concluding that it could not but that it may have some benefit in reducing cold duration or severity, a similar conclusion for Vitamin C.
I believe that the basic premise of the show is a fallacy, which underlies most of the show's conclusions (and frankly, probably most of our thinking) - that colds should or can be prevented.
Colds are not disease processes and therefore do not need cure or prevention.
They may not be pleasant but they are substantially the body's attempt to offload the effects of wrong living or poor metabolism. In other words, colds are our body's way of cleaning out debris which should not have been there in the first place. Colds are healing processes and little more than the elimination of excess mucous.
Efforts to prevent a cold, leaving the body encumbered with wastes it needs to eliminate, cause a greater problem for the body in future. Stopping a moderate outward flow of mucous today will probably require a greater flow and possibly fever at some time in the future, and result in a burden and possible weakening of the body.
Chronic disease often results from the suppression of acute cleansing reactions such as colds.
Accordingly, I am not surprised that natural products, such as healthy organic foods (by which I mean that the plant itself was a healthy specimen and therefore nutrient dense), or supplements that are an actual whole extract of a healthy plant (as opposed to a laboratory copy or where so-called "active ingredients" only have been extracted), do not prevent a cold.
Any substance that prevents a cold in a healthy way can only do so by strengthening the body against the accumulation of mucous in the first place, not by suppressing or stopping the mucous flow. In other words, if you want to avoid a cold then you need to start a healthier lifestyle. Supplements, drugs or anything that "stop" a cold are not good for your long term health.
There are of course more symptoms than mucous associated with a cold - low energy, congestion, coughing, etc - but these all relate to the body's focus of dredging up and expelling deeply buried wastes for elimination. Even more severe "illnesses" such as 'flu's that involve fevers, aching joints, etc are simply a more intense manifestation of the same basic problem - waste accumulation.
So, embrace your next cold - let it all hang out and celebrate the fact that your body will not have to deal with that same mucous at some other time in future, perhaps in the form of a more serious "illness". Colds that are allowed to properly run their course do you a favour. They give you the time and incentive to plan improvements to your diet, lifestyle and even your way of thinking so that future repeats become unnecessary. The nutrition and naturopathy pages on my website may provide you some other suggestions and ideas.
Finally, I'd also like to thank the unacknowledged naturopath, Kelly Newman, on last night's show - good job.
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